“Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!”
Imagine an alternative reality—perhaps a funnier one—in which comedic actor Bill Murray played Batman, Indiana Jones, and Han Solo. According to Robert Schnakenberg, it almost came to be. Here’s a list of these and other geek-friendly Murray might-have beens taken from Schnakenberg’s guide The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World’s Finest Actor. Be sure to pick it up on September 15!
Bruce Wayne/Batman – “Batman” (1989)
Murray was once considered for the title role in Tim Burton’s 1989 adaptation, along with Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner, and Pierce Brosnan. As it turns out, Murray was unavailable. After a string of commercial flops and a tumultuous divorce, the actor was on the tail-end of a self-imposed exile from Hollywood filmmaking. Michael Keaton landed the role.
Buzz Lightyear – “Toy Story” (2005)
Murray turned down the role of Buzz Lightyear, a part that went to Tim Allen. To Bill-finity and beyond!
Ford Prefect – “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (cancelled)
As many science-fiction fans know, a proposed adaptation of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” has been floating around Hollywood for many years. This particular adaptation would have been helmed by Ivan Reitman and starred Bill Murray as alien hitchhiker Ford Prefect. The role was played by actor/rapper Mos Def when a film adaptation finally made it to the screen in 2005.
Han Solo – “Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope” (1977)
Supposedly, Murray was one of several actors considered for the role of Han Solo. Even he doesn’t know for sure. Or maybe he does: It’s hard to tell with that guy. He joked about it during his appearance this year at San Diego Comic Con, telling the audience that he was hoping to get the part for Episode VII.
Indiana Jones – “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)
Harrison Ford’s iconic turn as the titular whip-snapping archaeologist may make this hard to believe, but at one time Murray was in the running for the role of Indiana Jones. So was Chevy Chase and Steve Martin, believe it or not.
Johnny Smith – “The Dead Zone” (1983)
Both Stephen King and movie producer Dino De Laurentiis wanted Murray for the role of psychic Johnny Smith. Murray was in the middle of a jam-packed shooting schedule and couldn’t squeeze the film in. The part eventually went to Christopher Walken
Shrek – “Shrek” (2001)
Way back in 1991 when Steven Spielberg first acquired the film rights to William Steig’s children’s book, he wanted Murray in the title role. It wasn’t to be, and Canadian comedian Mike Myers would voice the character
Sulley – “Monsters, Inc.” (2001)
Murray tested for the role of monster James P. “Sulley” Sullivan, but Pixar studio execs were unable to contact him after deciding they wanted him for the role. The part went to John Goodman, instead.